I’m much prone to claiming that such-and-such an album was my favourite when I was such-and-such an age, but I think Sandie Shaw’s “Hello Angel” may genuinely have been my favourite album when I was 16. Always a bit too pop-obsessed (and slightly too young) to really love The Smiths at the time, this was perfect for me: a glamorous 60s diva disinterred by Moz and given the chance to prove her relevance in the late 80s (the album was released – on Rough Trade, natch – in 1988).
The only actual Smiths song on the album is “Hand In Glove”, which she’d released several years earlier, but Morrissey and Stephen Street also contributed the two minutes of throwaway fun that is “Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness”.
Elsewhere, the album includes Sandie’s versions of The Waterboys’ “A Girl Called Johnny” and the Mary Chain’s “Cool About You”, the latter of which is particularly splendid. But surprisingly, it’s her own songwriting that wins out, in my opinion. “Nothing Less Than Brilliant” is aptly titled: joyous, ebullient, life-affirming. Expressing sentiments like these, it’s no surprise she went on to become a psychotherapist. (But then, I would say that.) The title track is gorgeously languorous. Or languorously gorgeous. Or something. “Take Him” is a slinky little “Jolene-esque” cha-cha-cha. And “I Will Remain” is just breathtaking – even down to the comedy punchline (Morrissey’s influence pretty obvious there, I would say!).
I guess what I love(d) about this album is how surprisingly cohesive it is. It should feel like a ragbag of “will this do?” covers, but it hangs together really well as a whole, I think. And Sandie has probably never sounded in better voice.
Ladies and gentlemen, here she is, Miss Sandie Shaw…